Shining a Light on Solar Power

Renewable energy is something that many of our customers are starting to consider. Because big wind turbines are not the most practical of solutions for most homes and businesses, solar power will be the solution to which many people turn, but it’s a decision that must be made only after many factors are considered.

The Brownsville Public Utilities Board (BPUB) does have a small number of customers who already have solar power installed in their homes. Of those customers, almost all continue to have to pay some type of electricity bill to BPUB. Why is that? Let’s look at some of the things to think about before investing in solar power.

Expense

While it’s more affordable now than it used to be, solar power is still a major investment. Someone can expect to easily pay $20,000 and more likely much more to set up a full solar system. That’s a pretty hefty price tag for anyone. Plus, unlike other energy saving measures, there aren’t many rebates out there for solar purchases. If you choose to build a smaller solar panel system to reduce your cost, you may not get much of a return on your investment, with only minimal savings on your monthly bill.

Weather

The Valley is ideally suited for wind energy, benefiting from coastal wind patterns because of its close proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, but it’s not such a perfect location for solar power. Overcast and cloudy days are quite common in the Valley. When the sun isn’t shining on your solar arrays, there is no power being created. That means your energy needs will be served by your power provider, not your solar panels.

There are battery storage technologies available to save excess power you create but don’t need at that time, but that power storage also comes with a very expensive price that will increase the time you will need to pay off the equipment and make it harder to justify the expense. You might end up paying more per month for your equipment than you do now for your electricity bill.

Your House

There is certainly enough sunlight to bring down your bill, but it may not be enough for you to justify investing in solar at this time. Before you make that decision, you really should do a thorough examination of your home to determine just how much you might benefit from solar.

Have you already taken other steps to bring down your bill? Is your air conditioner one that is energy efficient? Do you sufficient insulation for your home? Have you installed energy efficient windows? Are there any holes, cracks or gaps in your home that might make your air conditioner work a little harder? These are all things that can be done with a smaller investment and can have a major impact on your monthly bill. Plus, many of those improvements qualify for rebates in BPUB’s Green Living rebate program to offset your costs. Go here to learn more about BPUB’s Green Living rebate program: http://www.brownsville-pub.com/go-green/green-rebates-program.

Regardless, you shouldn’t consider solar power until your home is as energy efficient as possible; otherwise, you won’t see the full benefits of transitioning to solar power. You can contact BPUB to request a free evaluation of your home to figure out what can be done to bring down your bill.

Next Steps

If you still are interested in solar power, contact BPUB to discuss it. Our representatives might be able to recommend some other things to do to bring down your bill and will work with you to ensure that your solar power system is safely connected to the electrical grid. If there’s an outage in your area, BPUB needs to know that any power your home is producing won’t go into a power line that needs to be repaired. Not taking this precaution could result in BPUB linemen being hurt or even killed by electric shock.

BPUB is excited about the possibilities created through renewable energy and is here to work with any customers interested in making that transition. If you have any questions, you can contact BPUB’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Coordinator at 956-983-6282.

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